State Senators Introduce Abortion Protections Package in Pennsylvania

AbortionImage via Pennsylvania Senate Democrats

PENNSYLVANIA — Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti (D-Mongomery/Delaware) and Senator Judith Schwank (D-Berks) aim to introduce the Abortion Protections Package in response to the recent decision that reversed Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Outlined in a co-sponsorship memo on Monday, this legislative package in Pennsylvania includes six bills to safeguard access to reproductive healthcare for Pennsylvanians and out-of-state patients. Senator Cappelletti emphasizes the importance of proactive measures to protect patients and providers who offer crucial reproductive care.

“As the anti-abortion movement looks for more creative ways to punish people who are seeking the healthcare that they need and deserve, we must get proactive about offering protections to people who are seeking and providing reproductive care here in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Cappelletti. “This package will ensure the safety of patients who are getting the care they deserve and of our abortion providers – who we are grateful to have helping patients in a time of need. I’m hopeful my colleagues will see the vital need for these bills and will move this package forward with urgency once it is introduced.”

The Abortion Protections Package will be made up of six pieces of legislation that will:

  1. Prohibit Pennsylvania courts from cooperating with out-of-state civil and criminal cases involving reproductive healthcare services; prevent officials from other states from arresting individuals in Pennsylvania for an abortion-related crime.
  2. Prohibit Pennsylvania courts from enforcing another state’s judgment for a case involving the provision of reproductive healthcare services.
  3. Instruct healthcare licensure boards not to take adverse action against providers who offer reproductive healthcare services to out-of-state residents.
  4. Instruct insurance companies not to take adverse action against providers who offer reproductive healthcare services to out-of-state residents.
  5. Protect abortion providers’ home addresses from public discovery.
  6. Protect reproductive health care records from disclosure in civil actions or criminal investigations.
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Taken together, these measures will ensure that everyone within our Commonwealth’s borders are protected in their right to access an abortion and the doctors and nurses who provide it are freely able to provide healthcare.

“This legislation would bolster Pennsylvania’s commitment to legal abortion while sending a clear message to neighboring states that we will not be bullied,” said Senator Schwank. “We’ve watched states all over the country race to implement archaic abortion bans since the Dobbs decision. In Pennsylvania, abortion remains safe and legal. Our providers should not be looking over their shoulder or fearful of potential out-of-state prosecution for rendering health care to their patients.”

Advocates agree that Pennsylvania needs to pass policies that will further protect reproductive rights and access in our Commonwealth, especially now, as we witness the fallout from the Dobbs decision across the nation.

“Abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania, and legislation like this bolsters the state’s commitment to protecting safe access to legal care during this critical time. Health care providers and patients shouldn’t live under the distress of potentially being targeted for providing or receiving health care. Our providers are medical experts who seek to give their patients the essential care they need, and they must be able to provide timely abortion care without fear or intimidation from state politicians, rogue prosecutors, and anti-abortion activists,” said Sydney Etheredge, CEO of Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania.

“Senator Cappelletti and Senator Schwank have been champions for access to sexual and reproductive health care since they came to the Senate. We applaud their efforts with this package of legislation, and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates will always support bills that protect and expand access to sexual and reproductive health care,” said Signe Espinoza, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates.

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Research shows assaults against abortion clinic staff and patients rose by 128% in 2021 from the previous year. Pennsylvania needs to enact this legislative package swiftly to protect both patients and providers.

“Healthcare is not a crime. We are grateful to Senators Cappelletti and Schwank for introducing legislation to proactively fight anti-abortion efforts to restrict our travel, punish our family members for helping us find medical care in a crisis, prosecute doctors for honoring their oath, and access our private medical records. We will not allow anti-abortion extremists to strip Pennsylvanians of our freedom, safety, and privacy,” said Amal Bass, interim co-executive director of Women’s Law Project.

Read the co-sponsorship memo here.

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